College football odds: No. 15 Michigan at Connecticut

The University of Michigan avoided potentially the biggest upset in school history last week against the worst program in the FBS, Akron. So Coach Brady Hoke likely had his players’ attention in practice this week as UM completes its non-conference schedule by visiting UConn. The Wolverines are 17.5-point WagerWeb favorites.

Connecticut enters off a 32-21 loss to Maryland. UConn redshirt junior wide receiver Shakim Phillips caught a career-high 10 passes for 178 yards and a late touchdown for UConn, which fell to 0-2. UConn redshirt junior quarterback Chandler Whitmer was 29-of-46 for a career-high 349 yards and a touchdown. Phillips scored a late 75-yard touchdown catch and run, but had to be helped off the field after getting injured on the play. Whitmer went over 300 yards passing for the second time in his UConn career. His 349 yards were a new career-high, the previous mark was 333 against Western Michigan on Sept. 22, 2012. The last time UConn started a season 0-2 was 2002, its first season in FBS. That year, the Huskies fell at Boston College and against Georgia Tech in its first two contests.

The Wolverines looked out of place against Akron, a team that had lost 27 consecutive road games. Fitzgerald Toussaint scored a go-ahead, 2-yard touchdown with 2:49 left and No. 11 Michigan made a desperately needed stop on the final play to hold on for a 28-24 victory. Michigan (3-0) avoided getting upset at home — as it did against Appalachian State and Toledo — by a Mid-American Conference team with three straight one-win seasons that hasn’t won a road game in nearly five years and was expected to lose by more than five touchdowns. The Wolverines trailed twice in the second half — including with 4:10 remaining when Kyle Pohl threw a 1-yard TD — and allowed the Zips to get to the Michigan 4 on the last play of the game.

Hoke made the team practice on Sunday in full pads, something he has rarely done.

“We needed that,” senior left tackle Taylor Lewan said. “This team needed that. I think we were a tough, hard-nosed football team, and then we kind of got away from that. I think that was coach Hoke giving us a reality check.”

A presumably better-focused Wolverines team could have a good chance to get back on track against a UConn squad that’s had little success stopping its two opponents this season — the first being FCS school Towson. The Huskies have given up 894 yards and 65 points.

Saturday’s game at Connecticut marks the first time that U-M has played a non-conference game on the East Coast since playing at Boston College on Sept. 16, 1995. This will be U-M’s second meeting with Connecticut. The first-ever encounter between the Wolverines and the Huskies came at the rededication of Michigan Stadium on Sept. 4, 2010, with the Maize and Blue earning a 30-10 victory in the season opener. UConn had lost eight straight to ranked opponents before winning 23-20 at No. 19 Louisville on Nov. 24 in its most recent such matchup.

WagerWeb trends: Huskies are 2-8-1 ATS in their last 11 games overall. Huskies are 1-5-1 ATS in their last 7 home games. Huskies are 1-5-1 ATS in their last 7 games after accumulating less than 100 yards rushing in their previous game. Wolverines are 5-0 ATS vs. a team with a losing record. Wolverines are 5-1 ATS in their last 6 games following a ATS loss. Wolverines are 13-6-1 ATS in their last 20 non-conference games.

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